This is a thing that has been making the rounds on Facebook among some people that I know: The Democrat [sic] Party is the world’s most successful hate group. It attracts poor people who hate rich people, black people who hate white people, gay people who hate straight people, feminists who hate men, environmentalists who hate the internal combustion engine, and a lot of bratty college kids who hate their parents. However, the real secret of the party’s success is that it attracts the support of journalists who hate Republicans, and who therefore work tirelessly to convince the rest of us that we should vote for Democrats.
And though this tells me that anything I have to say about it will have no effect whatsoever on anyone’s opinions or convictions, in the interest of releasing pent up frustration I’ll say a few things about it anyway. Let’s begin by unpacking these statements point by point.
Poor people who hate rich people.
I imagine most poor people would prefer to be rich, or at least comfortable. So what could they possibly hate? Perhaps the relentless demonization of their situation, the conviction of those more affluent and fortunate that their poverty is entirely of their own making, that if they would only <fill in the blank with any moral judgment you like>: work harder, get off drugs, pump out fewer babies, not squander money on a cookie for their child or a steak for a special occasion or anything that would bring a single moment of joy to their hard lives, they would pull themselves up by their bootstraps and into respectability like the rest of us.
Black people who hate white people.
When I was in college I had a friend – 6’4” and an ex-Canadian pro football player – who diligently walked me to my car after our late night classes on a campus where sexual assault was not unheard of. And scarcely a week went by when, however animatedly we were discussing Hegel or Heidegger as we walked, some white male or three didn’t strut up and ask if I was okay, if I needed anything. He would sigh and wait for me to shoo them off, managing to my amazement to find a twisted humor in the white woman he was trying to keep safe needing to return the favor. He said it was a relatively mild annoyance compared to the constant slow drip of indignity, suspicion and confrontation that followed him in the wider world.
Gay people who hate straight people.
Recall every time your parents forbid you to date a boy or girl for whom you cared deeply and passionately. Now imagine they were still doing that when you were an adult. And multiply it by an entire country. Add a soupçon of women who – as an Arthur Murray dance instructor of my acquaintance endured time and time again – insist that they are the one who will make you see the error of your sexual orientation if you will only open yourself to the experience.
Feminists who hate men.
As a feminist I can speak to this one personally. You know what I hate? Men who want to legislate what I do with my body. Men who tell me my work isn’t worth as much as a man’s. Men who say, “If you want to be treated like a professional perhaps you should wear makeup and heels and dresses,” “You say you’re working on a Ph.D. in philosophy? That’s funny, what do you really do?” “Have you ever considered that God wants you to get Bs so you can spend more time on our relationship?” I have a husband and male friends who don’t do any of those things. And I love and cherish them all.
Environmentalists who hate the internal combustion engine.
I love the internal combustion engine. It is, like many other inventions down through the centuries, an enduring testament to human ingenuity. But what do I hate? That it is based on a resource that – however much drilling and fracking we do – is running out and won’t be restored, a resource that an overwhelming number of scientists warn is damaging the planet. That we have a generation of bright innovators eager to gift us with engines that rely on replenishable energies and rather than accept that gift we allow the crumbling, greedy titans of a dying technology to throw roadblock after roadblock in their way.
A lot of bratty college kids who hate their parents.
Bratty kids being crushed by student loan debt to the tune of $37,172 on average for a total of $1.3 trillion as of 2016. Who as of January 2017 can expect to earn 20% less than their parents at the same stage of life, although they dutifully put more effort into the education that was supposed to improve their chances of prosperity. Who are less likely to be able to afford a home, the gold standard of success in times gone by. And who, much like the poor, are relentlessly chided and mocked for their inability to thrive in an economic system that seems to be stacked against them.
Journalists who hate Republicans.
All I have to say about this is: Fox News. Breitbart. New York Post. I could go on, listing dozens of media outlets with a greater or lesser right-leaning bias. Each side, for better or worse, has its political standard bearers, who “work tirelessly” to “spin” the news their way. If we really don’t want that, then both sides need to be held to a higher standard.
I would also suggest researching the distinction between “journalist” and “blogger.” Because the left and the right also share a host of media outlets with no understanding of journalistic integrity at all. A real news organization confines their opinions to clearly marked opinion pages. Certain stripes of blogger, of the most hyperbolic variety, are happy to present their opinions as facts and their lies as truth. And we should all hate that.
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In case it hasn’t become obvious by now, what I do hate is the notion that frustration and anger at one’s circumstances and a desire for change can be glibly reduced to, “Johnny hates Susie.” Insisting that someone despises the people rather than their policies is akin to the petulance of a toddler who hasn’t yet developed their moral compass: “You won’t let me have more dessert than Sally because you hate me!” Not, say, because it isn’t fair.
One of the women who posted the above had this to say in her defense: “I’ve been called a racist, fascist, all the negative names just cause I voted conservative, and that I stand behind my president.” No, dear lady, you’re being called a racist, a fascist, all the negative names because you post things like this. Because you refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that any of these categories of individuals have grievances that are worthy of wrestling with and, beyond that, do your best to demonize and delegitimize them as human beings.
I used to consider myself a moderate. But as the abyss opened beneath my feet I realized I had to leap for a side. And so now I make monthly donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I do my best to accept the truth – however uncomfortable, and ferret out lies – however sweet-smelling. You can tell me that I belong to a “hate group,” and I’ll tell you that you need to go look up the meaning of that phrase. And as the nascent presidency launches its assaults on immigrants, transgender and women’s rights, as it moves to systematically dismantle what baby steps we’ve made toward addressing climate change, as it opens the door to diseases that the miracle of vaccines had allowed to slam shut, I will also tell you that actions speak louder than words.